Continuing the recent trend of punk rock throwing up some real treats we have another from you in the mighty shape of War Stories from US punks Dog Company. Stomping with eight massively virulent anthems, the album is a feisty protagonist of thoughts and passions, a fusion of old school punk and Oi! with additional twangs which is quite simply essential punk ‘n’ roll. The release celebrates the ten year anniversary of the band and the Dallas quartet could not have sculpted a stronger revelry to mark its moment.
Formed in 2004 and including members from Dallas punk bands The Staggers, Wayward Boy, and Dryline, Dog Company has been a persistent source of inciting political lyrical antagonism and rigorously invigorating sounds. It is a proposition which is thrillingly lean and direct as well as passionate in its intent and invention. Steering well away from the mediocrity and excesses the genre can sometimes indulge in, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Joe Blow (ex-Staggers/Riot Squad) leading the way from day one, the band soon earned a passionate and loyal fanbase. The album Songs of Discontent in 2008 drew certain spotlight upon their emergence which the acclaimed A Bullet for Every Lie two years later reinforced and pushed further. Live the band has equally impressed and constantly roused passions headlining and sharing stages with bands such as Street Dogs, Flatfoot 56, Lower Class Brats, The Briefs, Vice Squad, Agnostic Front, The Business, and Subhumans. War Stories though is the band at its mightiest and the perfect way to signpost their anniversary whilst surely recruiting an even greater horde of fans.
With lead guitarist Garrett Chapman, bassist Shea Close, and drummer Mick alongside Blow, Dog Company declare the rebel within its presence and southern kissed sound with a pleasing intro before the first irresistible contagion Elected Enemy hits the sweet spot. The track immediately sizes ears up with strikes of guitar and thumping rhythms which already are driven by the need to shape an anthem. It is a magnetic entrance which refuses to lose its potency as the song settles into an easy stride, guitars sending out twanging grooves and sonic colour to skirt the just as straightforward and appealing vocals of Blow, aided at times by both Chapman and Close. Feet are soon enslaved by the urgency and rhythmic bait of the song whilst imagination is coaxed into action by the lyrical narrative and heated guitar endeavour.
The captivating start is swiftly matched by the storming charge of For Our Friends, that earlier contagion taken to a new thrilling toxicity. The guitar craft of Chapman lights up the rapacious eagerness of the song, enterprise drizzling over and veining the riotous canvas and breath-taking stomp careering skilfully over its surface. Like a mix of The Clash in their early days and Flogging Molly, the song is insatiable in rousing emotions and thoughts whilst breeding an even greater flush of hunger and rapture for the album with its commanding presence.
Both Printed Word and Battle Fatigue keep the exhaustive pleasure flowing, the first a punchy and incendiary offering which again has limbs and emotions submissive to the catchy bait laid before them. As with most songs, the track feels like a friend before it has even completed its first suasion, a familiarity that is present but undefined in the fresh presentation and invention of Dog Company. The song’s successor entwines delicious sonic grooves around the ears straight away; a Buzzcocks like venom fuelled their enticement before the song provides a raw and wholly persuasive brew of riffs and rhythms ridden by again a lyrically challenging and vocally recruiting theme. The jagged scrub of riffs across the song only adds to the impossibly addictive nature of the track whilst the sonic croon of guitar simply adds coal to satisfaction’s fire.
Rhythms announce Combat Zone just how you would expect and hope they would, their military bearing the lead into a bracing blues seeping rock ‘n’ roll storm before Not Dead Yet brings its defiance, musically and vocally to bear on the eager passions. Again it is one to have the listener bursting in on its territory with voice and body, the song irresistible with its roving bass lines, battling rhythms, and sonic lures. As shown by the song as an example, Dog Company looks at issues and comments in a way all can relate to without ramming it down throats. Like the music Blow delivers the song’s heart with a forceful but undemanding swagger aligned to a fun built relish which ensures a good time for all comes hand in hand with the intent.
The album closes on the ridiculously contagious Last Call and the similarly epidemically driven and succeeding Can’t Keep Me Down, both tracks slabs of rock which brawl and seduce with an instinctive understanding of what makes the passions tick. Looking for something to temper our enthusiasm for War Stories proved fruitless with only the fact the release is sparse on major originality though definitely not short on invention, enterprise, and most of all passion. The album is one of the best punk records this year so far and if memory serves across the last too.
War Stories is available now via Cadre Records and Rebel Sound Music on CD and various 10” vinyl options.
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